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Word of the Day: Uchronia

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by Danna Martínez

What if? What could have happened but did not occur? History is made up of a great variety of events. However, human thinking gives rise to imagine what would have happened if they had not occurred or were modified. This technique is known as uchronia. The word “ucrhonia” (created from the Greek ou chronos, no time), also known as alternate history, is defined by the possibility of a history parallel to the one that happened. In other words, what would have happened if a particular event (a war, scientific discovery, etc.) had happened differently. Other names for uchronia could be alternative history, counterfactuals, if-worlds, uchronie, what-if stories, parallel worlds.The Masterclass website recommends 3 Essential Tips for Writing Alternate History Fiction:

  1. Focus on one specific change to historical events. Developing too many factors can make your uchronia appearance too far from reality, which can drain the reader’s interest. Ideally, start with few changes. Even the fanatics of speculative fiction want some degree of foundation in a story.
  2. Do a ton of research that goes beyond the single event you are altering. The best alternative history novelists know voluminous details about the time they are transforming. It is necessary to know the surrounding context of the proposed event. You must know the factors that preceded and followed the event.
  3. Remember, the same rules of standard fiction writing apply. It is an essential link to an alteration in the historical record, having textured characters and a compelling story. In the story’s hierarchy, the character, and the world’s construction, the story and the character remain first.

Within the literature field, a literary subgenre is called ucrhonia that proposes an alternative reconstruction of history based on logical, feasible, and credible criteria, which, although they never happened, could have happened if the events had taken another sense. It also shares traits with historical novels and science fiction. For example:

  • WorldWar by Harry Turtledove (1994-2004). In this example from 1942, alien ships arrive on Earth with invasion intentions in the middle of World War II.
  • Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, (1999). This example transports the audience to an alternate Japan into a police state that includes Korea and part of China. The Great Republic of East Asia.

To know some books with the concept of ucrhonia, click here.

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